SCOTTISH music industry stars Biffy Clyro, KT Tunstall and Nicola Benedetti are among the musicians adding their voices to protests at Brexit’s impact on their industry.
110 artists have signed a letter to the UK government demanding action to ensure visa-free touring in the European Union. Others include Elton John, Liam Gallagher, Sting, Radiohead and Queen’s Brian May.
Biffy Clyro and KT Tunstall have added their names to a high profile online petition asking the British Government to negotiate a free culture work permit for UK performers in the EU.
In their letter also signed by Nicola Benedetti the stars say they have been “shamefully failed” by the government over post-Brexit travel rules for UK musicians.
The letter was organised by the Incorporated Society of Musicians. It states: “The deal done with the EU has a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be. Everyone on a European music tour will now need costly work permits for many countries they visit and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment.”
The extra costs will “tip many performers over the edge”, it claims. “We call on the government to urgently do what it said it would do and negotiate paperwork-free travel in Europe for British artists and their equipment,” it adds.
World-renowned performers, emerging artists from every genre and the most respected figures from leading organisations within our sector are now sending a clear message
“For the sake of British fans wanting to see European performers in the UK and British venues wishing to host them, the deal should be reciprocal.”
Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, added: “World-renowned performers, emerging artists from every genre and the most respected figures from leading organisations within our sector are now sending a clear message.
“It is essential for the government to negotiate a new reciprocal agreement that allows performers to tour in Europe for up to 90 days, without the need for a work permit.”
A petition signed by more than 250,000 people – including Laura Marling, Biffy Clyro, KT Tunstall and Dua Lipa – is also calling on the the government to “negotiate a free cultural work permit” that would allow “bands, musicians, artists, TV and sports celebrities that tour the EU to perform shows and events and carnet exception for touring equipment”.
The UK government, unsurprsingly, attempted to shift the blame on to the EU. A spokesman said the signatories to the letter should be asking the EU why they “rejected the sensible UK proposal”.
The government will meet music industry representatives today (Wednesday) to talk about their concerns.
Earlier this week, culture minister Caroline Dinenage said the EU’s “very broad” offer “would not have been compatible with the government’s manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders”.
However, she said “the door is open” if the EU was willing to consider the UK’s proposals to reach an agreement for musicians.
In the meantime, she confirmed, musicians and artists touring the continent “will be required to check domestic immigration and visitor rules for each member state in which they intend to tour”.
That may require them to have multiple visas or work permits, which some industry experts say will be expensive and potentially prohibitive – especially for musicians at the start of their careers.
The EU has insisted it was the UK government’s choice to end visa-free touring for musicians on the continent.
Officials in Brussels told journalists that the UK “refused” a plan that would have let musicians tour without visas.
The EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the result was one of the “inevitable consequences” of Brexit.
“I very much regretted that the British didn’t have more ambition for people’s mobility,” Mr Barnier told reporters last week.
“From last March, we made fairly ambitious proposals in terms of mobility, including for specific categories such as journalists, performers, musicians and others,” he went on. “But you need to be two to make a deal.”